TCAF

There’s been so much happening in my life, both good and — alas, unfortunate — that I’ve been totally remiss in mentioning that I’m going to be at TCAF this weekend!  Toronto, one of my favorite cities in the world — oh, how I love you.  And so many of my favorite comic book peeps are going to be there today and tomorrow — including Sana Takeda!  You got that — Sana is going to be in Toronto!  Woooooooo!!!

Here’s my schedule — all my events are at the Masonic Temple, 888 Yonge St.

SATURDAY

[NOTE:  I’m flying in this morning, so there’s a slim chance I won’t make the 12:15 panel]

  • 12:15 PM – Who Are Your Heroes: Comics and Representation – A look into the classic North-American white picket fence archetypes from the perspective of the storytellers growing just outside that fence. A talk about identity and voices as the world grows and shifts but media struggles against reflecting it. What kind of stories do you tell when you’re the “other” in your own environment? Panelists: Ivan Brandon, Marjorie Liu, Valentine De Landro, Ramón Pérez
  • 04:00 PM – Image 25th: Glitterbomb x Monstress – Few things are as horrific as real horror! Few things are as felt as true feelings! So how do you convey both of those things in comics? Join the teams behind the terrific and terrifying Monstress (Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda) and Glitterbomb (Jim Zub and Djibril Morrissette-Phan) on how they go about imbuing their stories and characters with real emotion, while also scaring your pants off.

SUNDAY

  • 12:00 PM – Image 25th: Finding a Balance – Day jobs. Everybody’s got one. But how do you go about paying the bills while creating hit creator-owned comics? How do you make sure you have enough creative energy for both? Marjorie Liu, Jim Zub, Ivan Brandon, and Jason Latour are no strangers to balancing projects they do for others and projects the do for themselves. Come and hear how they try to make it work!

Reader Q&A: Trainers, Valentine’s, and Sana!

Since yesterday I’ve been asked by several people who my trainer is.  His name is Bash (here’s his instagram feed), and it’s not an exaggeration to say that he really turned my health around.  I talked yesterday about being intimidated by exercise, but let me elaborate:  I wasn’t just intimidated, I was overwhelmed.  Walking into a gym meant confronting every body issue, every childhood instance of being bullied, a lifetime of being told and believing that I wasn’t capable of being physically strong.  And yeah, when I was a kid, I had terrible knees, and that didn’t help.  PE class hurt, and not in that “oooo, my muscles are burning so good” sort of way.

Hey, though, my knees still hurt — the difference now is that I push through because I know I can, because I know that my limits, and my ability to grow, have not been maxed out.  And having had a taste of what I can achieve with my body, I want to keep pushing myself for more.  It feels like magic sometimes.

But if I’d started out with a coach who wasn’t quite the right fit, it would have taken me a lot longer to get to this point.  I got lucky with Bash.  He recognized that I was not advanced in…shall we say, the ways of the Force (my athletic midichlorian levels were almost nonexistent), and so, like a good Jedi, he started out small, but persistently kept pushing me to do more.  Like a Ben Kenobi, as opposed to being trained by Darth Sidious.

It’s the little wins, guys.  I can’t run worth shit, and my plank positions still look more like trembling triangles than sturdy flat lines, but hey!  Progress!

***

In the comments of an earlier blog post, James asked: I’ve just received Monstress, Issue #8 and devoured it–sorta like the Monster, I suppose. The story and artwork simply never get old. I wanted to inquire as to how the artwork’s done. Is it done traditionally, paper/pencil/ink–maybe Chinese stick ink? Or is it done digitally?

I’ve sat beside Sana while she sketches with pen and paper — and it’s honest-to-god a thing of beauty, watching her pencil.  She’s so effortlessly amazing.  But Monstress is completely digital.

Here’s a sketch she made while we were on tour after SDCC.

Beautiful, right?  Wait until you see #10, out in a couple weeks.  My author copies just arrived.

 

***

Finally, Happy Valentine’s Day!   Every day is Valentine’s Day, if we’re talking about celebrating each other, and being grateful for love.  Love and friendship and family, and the blessings of all of these things.

I saw this image…I thought at first it was a hoax, but I researched, and it seems to be real.  It’s a photo from a 1972 excavation in Iran.  The 2800 year old couple, male and female, were likely asphyxiated during a fire (the hole in the skull came from the dig), and yes, it looks like they’re kissing.  Or at least, holding each other, right to the end.

Waaaaaah.

Coping mechanisms

For the last couple years I’ve been making a concerted effort to exercise more, for the simple reason that I sit all day on a couch or desk, hunched over a laptop, and after years and years of doing that without much of a break, my body started to hurt.  Neck, back, shoulders — everything.  If I had a deadline, like clockwork I’d wake up some morning unable to turn my head — my jaw tight, pain radiating up and down my back into my skull.  Tension, bad posture, muscle weakness, you name it.  I’d take a bunch of Motrin, then keep working while resting in bed, propped up on pillows.

Now, you have to understand, I was that kid who hated gym, who always came in last in all the physical tests, never got picked for the team, blah, blah, blah.  Running a mile was a death sentence (still kind of is), a sit-up was out of the question, climbing stairs from the basement to the first floor made my legs burn with a serious hell no.  I liked to sit and eat and read and take easy (very easy) walks.  If you’d asked me then, or ten years ago, five years ago, if I could ever see myself regularly working out, I would have laughed in your face.

But…but…something had to change.  My health sucked.  I didn’t like being in pain.  Also, I’m getting older.  That mattered, too.

I decided to work with a trainer (because I didn’t know what to do, how to begin, how to even use a machine at the gym).  I started walking more, taking the stairs instead of the elevator.  I was always afraid, stupidly, that exercise would make the pain worse — when, in fact, just the opposite happened.  Movement was the best medicine of all.

It’s been almost three years of focused, regular, work — but I’m almost never in pain anymore (unless you count my aging knees), my neck doesn’t lock up, my back feels strong.  It’s a good feeling.  Great, even. And it startles me, sometimes, how much better I feel — even compared to my twenty-year old self.

It’s also incredibly useful, in times of stress, to focus on the body instead of the mind.  That’s something I never thought much about — how exercise has a calming effect.  Folks would say that to me, but it didn’t make sense — until I started working out.  And now, more than ever, I need distractions, I need calm.  Not, for once, because of my writing — but because of everything happening in our country.

Coping mechanisms.  Which leads me to this morning.  There’s a place down the street where you can take spinning classes.  I had no clue what that was, I thought it meant actual spinning (hahaha). And then I found out that spinning refers to stationary bike-riding.  But with loud music.  I was like, “Cool, I’ll try something new.  I got this.”  So this morning I signed up for a 7 am class.

Yoooooooooo what.  WHAT.

First of all, there was no whining, crying, or quitting — but damn.  WTF is this?  What is this arcane fusion of shadowy neon dance club and stationary biking?  Biking where you’re never supposed to actually sit down?!  And why did everyone act so happy to be there?!

Let’s just say that if my goal was to get fit AND be distracted, spinning was A++.  But beyond that, the best part of those 45 minutes-going-on-eternity was our coach screaming, over and over, “YOU’RE A BADASS BITCH! BADASS BITCHES RIDE HARD! RIIIDE!”

I confess that being called a badass bitch did not actually make me ride harder. But I did start laughing and my feet slipped off the pedals and I almost fell off my bike into the woman next to me.

Yes, stay smooth.

This isn’t meant to be some infomercial on why folks should stay active.  More like, making changes in our lives, even ones that are intimidating, can have real benefits.  I was super intimidated by exercise.  I still kind of am.  I lived my whole life being told, and believing, that I wasn’t that person.

But I was also told that writing wasn’t a real job, that readers wouldn’t buy romance novels written by Chinese writers, that women don’t read comics, or write them…and I shrugged and just kept plugging along.  Being able to climb a flight of stairs without feeling like a walking heart attack is simply part of that larger journey.

Also, don’t forget, a good distraction.

 

Food porn, politics, and cats

“It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.”
– James Baldwin

I never used to talk much about politics.  But the world doesn’t become a better place through inaction, or by putting our heads in the sand and pretending there’s nothing wrong.  Even if we don’t see eye to eye, that’s okay — but there are very real ways we should all unite around a future built on common decency.  We’re stuck on this little world, together — we’re all we’ve got.  Let’s be excellent to one another.  Let’s remember how fragile democracy really is.  Freedom isn’t a given.  It has to be protected, tended, championed.

That said, I need a different outlet where I can remind myself of the things I love — where I can discharge some of this nervous energy that can’t be transmitted in 140 characters or less.  And I suddenly remembered tonight that, hey, I’ve got this thing called a blog.  Gee whiz.

We’re all writing in the long form via Twitter — only now it’s called a thread.  I love reading threads, the immediacy of them, the serialized argument staged in fragments.  Reminds me of law school, in a way — how I would break down my thoughts around a problem, bit by bit.

But sometimes you don’t want to think about making words fit on the canvas…sometimes you just want to write and write.  About nonsense.  About food.  About cleaning out your closet, or publishing, and comics, and the weather.  Or about books.  Or race and sexuality and feminism.

About anything.

***

Lately, my twitter feed has been nothing but politics and food porn.  I read an article recently where a doctor suggested that taking lots of food photos can indicate a mental illness; it suggests the food or the restaurant matters more than the company you’re with; that it’s a fetish; an obsession.

I mean, okay.  Maybe that’s all true.  Or maybe sometimes you’re like, “Damn, that piece of avocado looks real juicy and I need to show my mom.”  Or maybe you’re really loving the experience of having a meal with someone you love, and part of that experience is the food you share.  Or maybe you’re trying out a restaurant for the first time and your friends are like, “PICTURES OMG.”  Or maybe, sometimes, food is comforting — maybe you like to eat, damn it — and a good meal is part of the diary you keep (like, “…on Tuesday I negotiated a stand-off between a grizzly and the local school board; and then, a burger.”).

Whatever.  When you’re a writer and spend your days inside ALL THE TIME ALL YEAR ROUND — forcing yourself to leave the house is kind of essential.  Meal time is good for that.  Also, our kitchen is tiny, so cooking is a pain.

Here’s tonight’s spread (or part of it).  In other news, I like fish.

I hope wherever you are, wherever you’re reading this, you’re safe and warm, with a good book or loved one nearby.  I’m all tucked in, ready for a long night of work — there’s a two-tailed cat that needs some adventuring.

Bay Area Tour: Monstress

New York Comic Con was terrific this year.  What made it so great was having Sana Takeda there — and meeting all of you wonderful readers, new and familiar, who stopped by our table to say hi.  Thank you all so much for your enthusiasm and support.

My travels aren’t over, though!  To celebrate the return of Monstress this week, I’m flying out to the Bay Area for three events. Here are the details:

TR!CKSTER in conjunction with Fantastic Comics and the Berkeley Public Library are pleased to welcome Marjorie Liu back to the Bay Area to kick off the second arc of MONSTRESS! You’ll have THREE chances to catch her during this visit; Friday is fantastic with a signing at Fantastic Comics. Saturday you’ll find Marjorie taking questions at the Library and finishing with a reception at TR!CKSTER! You’ll also be able to snag a gorgeous MONSTRESS print from artist, Sana Takeda at our reception!

OCTOBER 14TH:  

5 – 8 pm — I’ll be doing a Q&A and signing at Fantastic Comics (2026 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, California 94704), so stop by and say hi!  More info here.

OCTOBER 15TH:

3 – 4 pm — Berkeley Public Library (North Branch: 1170 The Alameda, BerkeleyCA 94707) for a conversation about Monstress, Han Solo, comics, writing — anything you want to talk about!

6 -9 pm — Come to TR!CKSTER (2631 Ashby Ave. Berkeley, CA. 94705) for a reception where I’ll be signing, hanging out — and you’ll be able to find some prints of Sana’s beautiful art from Monstress.